Maan Alhmidi, the Canadian press
TORONTO — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes Canadian students should pressure their elected officials to do more for their country in the fight against the Russian invasion.
Speaking virtually to an audience of students gathered at the University of Toronto on Wednesday, Zelensky said Ukraine needed more weapons, financial support, humanitarian aid and permanent sanctions against Russia.
Students from 10 other universities in Canada participated in the virtual meeting, including the University of Montreal, University of Alberta, Western University and Dalhousie University.
“It is very important that you students from many other countries carry this message to your respective countries to pressure their political leadership to give Ukraine what it needs,” said President Zelensky. With your actions, please do not allow anyone, somewhere in the hierarchy of bureaucratic corridors, to forget what is happening in Ukraine, forget the war. Please don’t get tired.”
He suggested that students could contribute in their own way by attending rallies, speaking on social media and communicating with friends to remind people of the tragedies unfolding in Ukraine, nearly four months after the start of the Russian invasion of the country.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland recalled that Canada has pledged US$1.87 billion in financial assistance to Ukraine, including US$1.5 billion that has already been poured into the country. “This is more than any other country has managed to send to the Ukrainian government’s bank account,” she said.
Mrs. Freeland said democratic countries, including Canada, cannot allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to emerge victorious from this war, which aims to overthrow democracy in Ukraine.
“I want to say to President Zelensky, and I want to say to President Vladimir Putin, who I think is probably listening to us too, that Canada will be there for Ukraine for as long as it takes,” she said. We will persist. We won’t get tired.”
University of Toronto president Meric Gertler says the institution has a “special bond” with Ukraine’s president and his country is showing “incredible bravery” in its fight against Russian aggression.
Last month, the university announced a program to accommodate more than 200 Ukrainian students whose academic paths were disrupted by the war. A first group of 20 students arrived in Toronto last month from Kyiv, the capital.
Mr. Zelensky visited the University of Toronto campus in 2019 to attend an international summit on the future of his country.